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Bauxite myths

Luke Rawalai
Friday, November 09, 2012

THERE are no direct side effects of bauxite on the natural ecosystem and villagers' claims that the mineral will adversely affect the environment are not true.

Bauxite Mine manager Basilio Vanuaca said they were closely monitoring the surrounding areas of the mine and there was no evidence of such an impact.

He was responding to statements made by Bua villagers in the Nawailevu area.

"There have been claims from villagers that the spillage of soil in the rivers and waterways in the area has been affecting the size of their marine stock and these are not true," said Mr Vanuaca.

"Bauxite is saline and is soluble in water therefore when it comes into contact with water it dissolves and is harmless to the marine ecosystem."

"However the concentration of the chemical in waters can be harmful to living organisms and this takes up to five to six years for the deposit to grow and reach that certain amount of harmful concentration," he said.

Mr Vanuaca added that it was not in the interest of the company to let or allow the soil to be washed away to the sea since this counts as a loss for them.

"We intend to ship the soil to China and if people claim there is a spill from the mining site and the ships or the trucks transporting the soil, then we are losing out," said Mr Vanuaca.

"There is sign of life around the mining area as mangrove plants have started emerging from the shipment area and this fact opposes the claims of villagers," he said.

"Since bauxite is present in large amounts in the top layer of the soil, then the area would have been affected a long time ago from the process of rain, way before our company started works at the site," he said.

Mr Vanuaca said that people need to be aware that the entire processing of the mineral was done in China.

"We just extract the soil from the mining site and nothing else is done at the mining site.

"We are aware of the concerns of the village and we will soon be dispatching an awareness team to conduct awareness with villagers and address issues with them," he said.





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